ANDREEA: Actually it was not my job to know what I have to take for my headache.
[[“Express Yourself” Intro Music]]
JESSICA: This week, we talk to ex-Olympic champion from Sydney 2000 Andreea Raducan about her new book, and what we’re thankful for in NCAA gymnastics.
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts, Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset: your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 19 for February 6, 2013. I’m Jessica.
SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson
UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim
JESSICA: And this is the best and only gymnastics podcast in the universe. And we are going to do something different today, we’re going to go right into our interview with Andreea Raducan, and we’ll do NCAA review after that. Here it comes.
JESSICA: So before we start the interview, let’s go back in time for a minute to the 2000 Olympics. So Khorkina had won the 95 and 97 World Championships in the all around. She’d been European champion leading up to the Games. Everybody thought this was her Games. The meet starts, the all around final starts, Khorkina is leading, she had won prelims. She goes to vault, the vault is set at the wrong height, no one realizes it, she falls, dreams dashed, it’s over. Everyone thought she was a sure winner. She’s out now. She goes to bars, she’s clearly totally distraught, falls on bars again, her best event. And then Raducan went on to vault with the vault at the wrong height and did fine. Fast forward, the Australian gymnast told everybody, “Hey the vault’s at the wrong height, let’s fix it.” It’s fixed. Everyone is allowed to vault again if they had already vaulted. But of course the damage was already done. Khorkina had already gone on to bars and competed on bars and had fallen. They didn’t change the rules to say, “Hey if you’ve already started on another event and done badly because your dreams and hopes were dashed by the vault being at the wrong height, then you can do the second event over again too.” They just let people repeat the vault. So that started the whole sham that was the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. So that is the history behind this. Raducan of course went on to win. She qualified for an event final. And then we find out that the doctor had given her medication the night before the all around finals, and it had ephedrine in it, or pseudoephedrine. And that is a banned substance. And so her medal was taken away from her. And so Simona Amanar then became the Olympic champion. So that is the background upon which this interview takes place. And that’s the background that Andreea Raducan wrote her book about, which is out now. And you can buy it in English finally. The other thing I want to mention is that it’s not often that we get to hear from one of our foreign Olympic champions in English. So even though this is not her native language, English, but she does a really good job. And for anybody that speaks another language, you guys will identify with this. That, you know, sometimes it’s hard, when you first start speaking another language, you need a little bit of time to warm up and start getting into the fluency of the language. So the beginning of the interview is a little bit rough. And then she warms up, and she warms up to us, and she gets more comfortable speaking English, and it gets better and better as it goes on. And with that, I’ll let Uncle Tim take it from here. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did.
UNCLE TIM: 2000 Olympic all around team and gold medalist Andreea Raducan is one of the most recognized and loved figures in the gymnastics lexicon. After heartbreak in Sydney when she was stripped of her Olympic all around gold medal in one of the most controversial competitions ever, Andreea continued training and had success at the 2001 World Championships. Today she enjoys the fame of an Olympic champion and works as a sports journalist. Her book, The Other Side of the Medal, is available now, and she’ll tell us how we can get it. Andreea, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. So one question that we always ask our guests is, is there a question you wish someone would ask you? And, is there one for you?
ANDREEA: Oh, I don’t think there is a question that I didn’t answer. Many questions about when I was a little girl and got to do gymnastics, and today when I speak about my life after my career or about my projects. So it’s hard to say. [laughs]
UNCLE TIM: Ok, so let’s back to when you were a little girl. Can you tell us how you started gymnastics? Were you selected? Or did you choose to start doing gymnastics? Could you tell us a little bit about that?
ANDREEA: Oh actually, my dad was a sports fan. And he brought me to the gym. He played soccer during his childhood, and he loved sports. In fact, I was the most [inaudible] child in the building when I grew up. So my parents one day, they said, “Ok, it’s time to do something.” And they chose my way of life, and I started to do gymnastics when I was four years old.
UNCLE TIM: And where did you start doing gymnastics?
ANDREEA: Oh in my hometown, Barlad. It’s a small town in [the] southeast part of Romania.
UNCLE TIM: Ok, and how did you end up going to Deva?
ANDREEA: Oh, later when I was almost 14 years old, yeah they selected me and I talked with my parents. They told me about the training camps. So I would go to stay without them. So it was pretty difficult at the beginning, but I love very much gymnastics. And I say, “Ok, this is my way, so I have to go. And I want to go.”
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And while you were growing up in Romania, which gymnast did you idolize?
ANDREEA: In that time, we don’t have access to the many information about our gymnasts like how [it is] today. But everybody heard about Nadia Comaneci. And my father used to read me from a book about Nadia. So I can say that she was my role model. Then I love Daniela Silivas, Lavinia Milosovici. We have a lot of famous gymnasts in Romania.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And while you were training at Deva, you mentioned that it was pretty difficult. Could you describe a typical day at your gym?
ANDREEA: It was… it’s pretty difficult to understand from somebody with a normal life maybe. We wake up at 7:00 every day, have breakfast, then go to school. And there was an agreement between the gymnastics federation – the Romanian Gymnastics Federation – and the school. And we were part of a special class, following a special schedule. You know, only a few classes every day, between 7 hours of training. And we enjoyed that it was scheduled [inaudible]. The school classes were from 8am to 2pm. But for the rest of the time we were taught only the most important things in life. Everybody was taught that sports was our priority, and not just in sport. High performance means a very strict program, the same program week after week, year after year. The first training session began at 10am, and ending at 1:30pm. Between, we had lunch, and then there was time to rest a little bit before training again. That lasts from 5pm until 8:30pm. After that we had dinner, we had therapy, then we had to do our homework, and the next day [was] the same program. It was not so easy, but it was a different life. Not easy, but very special and very interesting.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And just to clarify, could you talk a little bit more about what you said when you were talking about “we were taught that sports were the most important thing in life?” What did you mean by that?
ANDREEA: You know, when I started gymnastics at the age of 4, I had no idea how important sports was. I was prepared by my father who knew just what he wanted for his child. And sports became a way of life for me. Now I realize that it fit me so well that whatever else I will do, I would have liked to do, would have probably been in vain. I don’t know exactly. Isn’t easy to say what I can be today without sports. It was the most important thing in my life until, I don’t know, 20 years old.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. I see what you mean. And could you tell us a little bit about the training schedule at Deva. Did you spend a lot of time doing dance? Did you spend a lot of time doing strength exercises? Could you tell us a little bit about that?
ANDREEA: Yeah you know, we have choreography in the morning. Conditioning in the afternoon. Events in the morning and in the afternoon. It was the same schedule every single day. I don’t know exactly how to explain, because we start with bars in the morning. Actually choreography then beam, floor, vault. And then in the afternoon we have the same program.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And as you were going about these events, what were your coaches like? Obviously in America the one we know the most is Octavian Bellu. What was he like?
ANDREEA: Oh yeah. In my gymnastics career, I had two sets of wonderful parents. My birth parents, whom I spent my early years with, and my coaches. Mariana Bitang, with whom I spent 360 days a year. So at the beginning I knew the coaches from TV and from competition, but I had an extraordinary relationship with them. And today as well. They say [inaudible] for each of us. I think these two coaches are the perfect example of that. Their communication was amazing in everything they did. Whether they were in the gym for training or during a competition, they were true professionals dedicated to their work. They tried to pass these qualities onto us. And I think they knew that they were born for that, for these things. So if I could be born again [laughs], choose to be a gymnast, and have Mrs. Mariana and Mr. Bellu as my coaches, they provided light to all my paths and made me one of the best gymnasts in the world.
UNCLE TIM: Aww. Well it sounds like they were very important influences in your life, so that’s great.
ANDREEA: For sure. For sure.
UNCLE TIM: At this point I’m going to pass you over to Blythe, who’s going to talk a little bit more about the 2000 Olympics with you.
BLYTHE: Thank you Uncle Tim. Andreea, what I would like to ask you is, when you think about the Olympics when you were a young girl, when did it feel that it was possible for you to go to the Olympics? When did you start beginning to have the dream that you could one day go to the Olympics?
ANDREEA: Oh, when I started to do gymnastics, I didn’t know many things about the Olympic Games. I was just a girl 4 years old who just liked to play. Then after that, everything goes out. This was very difficult, very different. Because we start[ed] to train very serious with our coaches. They tried to [tell] us that if we wanted to do [the] performance, we had to be in the gym every single day. And it’s hard to understand this way, if you like it. And actually I think it’s better to think and to have the things step by step and nothing more.
BLYTHE: And the Olympics was the final step for you in this journey in gymnastics?
ANDREEA: No actually it was the most important competition, the Olympic Games. But the last important one was the Worlds in 2001. In Ghent, after the Olympic Games. But indeed, the most important competition I think for every athlete is the Olympic Games of course.
BLYTHE: Did your coaches talk about the Olympics when you were preparing in the gym?
ANDREEA: Yes, of course. We talk[ed] about that. And I knew ahead of time that I had to be confident. I had no doubt that I was very well trained. I never said, you know, before the competition, “If I do better than the Russian I will be a champion.” I only knew that if I did my job well, I could be a champion. And I tried to do my best all the time. They taught me that. And they tried to explain [to] us which things are important to become a champion. To be the best.
BLYTHE: I see. One thing that was always impressive about your performances is that you always seemed like a fearless competitor. And we were wondering if there were any skills that were scary or difficult for you to learn, and if there were any skills that scared you when you competed them?
ANDREEA: Actually not really. As I [said] before, I just know to focus and to be confident. I always was very very well trained, so… I have to say that I don’t like the bars. I never liked the bars. But you know for all around final, you want to do bars too. But it’s not a big problem with that, because, as I [said], I love gymnastics and I love the competition all the time. It was the most important moment for us. You know, we go to the training every day. Every day. And when the competition starts you have to be in a good mood and to try to do your best.
BLYTHE: Yes. And at the Sydney Olympic Games, one thing that people remember – of course there are several things that people remember about gymnastics at those Games – but what people do remember most is that the height of the vaulting horse for the vault was set too low for about half of the competition. And you went on vault during that part of the competition when it was set too low. But you did two very good vaults. It did not seem to affect you very much. And you were able to take very good landings. And did you notice, at the time, that the vaulting horse seemed a little bit lower?
ANDREEA: Oh yeah. I was one of the gymnasts who jumped lower than the requirement of the horse. And yeah [laughs], it was pretty weird to see that could happen at the most important competitions, the Olympic Games. And I can remember my coach set the springboard for me exactly the way I like it. But [I] still had the feeling that I punched the horse from too high, position that I wasn’t hitting it normally. And I saw the girls repeating and failing, and it was really odd. In this condition, I was able to perform my jumps really well. But it was really strange. We tried to understand what happened because, you know, gymnast after gymnast [went] down. And we were very well trained and we [went] to the Olympic Games. Too many mistakes, something was wrong there [laughs].
BLYTHE: In retrospect, do you think that the meet officials handled the situation with the vault well? Do you think that there was anything that might have been done to improve the situation?
ANDREEA: Oh, after the competition [had] ended, all the gymnasts from those two fields who jumped lower were allowed to perform the vault again. But you know, this was [inaudible]. Mentally they were affected by the failed landings from earlier. It’s hard to say that they could do something for their mistake.
BLYTHE: Yes, of course. At what point during this competition did you realize that you could win? That you could be number one?
ANDREEA: Oh [laughs] before [I started] my exercise on the floor, it was my last event in the competition. The all around final. And Mr. Bellu told me to be focused and what I had to do was perform without any mistakes. And I smiled and started. But I did not imagine my whole exercise. I think everybody knew from the monitors that I could be the new Olympic champion if I did not fail. I had no idea about all, but Mr. Bellu was moving around the floor while I performed line after line. And I did a good exercise. And when I finished my routine, the audience was on fire, you know? And I knew it’s good, it’s something good. I did a good exercise, and yeah, it was a sign of my victory. I knew that I would be on the podium, so I was overwhelmed.
BLYTHE: It was a wonderful performance, and a wonderful performance for Simona and Maria as well. Did the three of you ever think that it was possible that you could be 1,2,3 like that on the podium at the Olympic Games?
ANDREEA: Oh no [laughs] I don’t think so. I think it was the most important, beautiful moment for Romanian gymnastics history I guess. So, we were so happy and we couldn’t believe that we did such an important performance. But, yeah it was something very very very special for us and for our coaches. To have three girls and all of them to be on [the] podium I think is impressive, really impressive.
BLYTHE: Very impressive, especially after winning the Team title as well. So you got to stand up there twice. What did Nadia say to you after the competition? Because you were the first since Nadia to become the Olympic All-Around Champion, and it was a very special moment. Did you get to talk to her after that?
ANDREEA: Oh yes, she was with us all the time and she supported me and she supported my teammates. You know, she was my role model so when she was beside me I was really happy and I just [said] “thank you so much Nadia, we appreciate that you are here with us.” It was such a nice moment for me and [the] delegation, and our team.
BLYTHE: Yes, it was a wonderful moment. But before the competition, and this would become important later, you didn’t feel very good and so the doctor gave you some medicine?
ANDREEA: Yes, I [told] my doctor, that you know I have a headache, “I’m not feeling very well” I said. He gave me a pill, but it was really strange because I didn’t understand anything. I just talked to my doctor, [told] him about my problem and I go to the Hall for the competition, I got ready and that’s all.
BLYTHE: Absolutely. As an athlete, that’s just your job. Were you taught about banned drugs, or told to read the labels of any medication you took, anything like that?
ANDREEA: We were a team and actually it was not my job to know what I have to take for my headache. I was a gymnast and I had to do what I knew best to do, and I guess I did that. Anyway I didn’t want to appear as a [cheater] but I had to declare that I didn’t understand how I got into this, because I haven’t done anything but my job as a gymnast. It was really strange and it’s pretty difficult to remember today those moments. After I finished the All-Around final, we got down from the podium, we were so happy after one of the best performances in the history [of Romanian gymnastics], and then I was asked to take a drug test. I stayed with the team doctor, he mentioned all the pills I had taken [inaudible] one time for inflammation, and one other thing for my headache. It started the nightmare for me. Actually you have to read the book, and you will understand everything about what I was thinking and feeling at that moment.
BLYTHE: Yes. I look forward very much to reading the book, but when did you find out that you had tested positive for the banned substance?
ANDREEA: Actually right before the vault final. Before the beam and floor-sorry. Yes, we finished the All-Around final after one day, we had the vault final, so I got another medal, the silver on the vault. Then we prepared for beam and floor. A member of our team came to Mr. Bellu and told him that we have a problem. “Oh my God, what kind of problem?” “I don’t know because Andreea Raducan [doesn’t] have to go to the gym because she [tested] positive.” “What?!” Everybody was shocked and just had many questions because we didn’t understand. “I don’t know, maybe I [ate] something, [drank] something, I don’t know.” It was awful. Then my teammates were going to the gym and I stayed in the Olympic Village waiting for the answer, I don’t know exactly. I was just shocked and tried to calm down and to [inaudible]. Yeah, it was pretty difficult.
BLYTHE: Yes, and did the team doctor say anything after the test came back positive?
ANDREEA: No, there was nothing left to say. After I’ve been heard by many commissions and in the end he has been banned from two different countries Olympic teams. And, yeah, he admitted he’s guilty and now it’s not very nice, but you know.
BLYTHE: It sounds like it was horrible, Andreea. And our hearts go out to you and you have so many fans around the world who felt, oh my goodness it was just such an injustice and I remember watching it and just thinking how horrible because it was such a beautiful performance and you absolutely deserved the gold medal. We have heard some rumors afterwards in the US. Is it true that Simona Amanar gave you her gold medal?
ANDREEA: Oh, no! [LAUGHS] No, no. The medal [belongs] to her. She says that she [doesn’t] want this medal, that it belongs to me. But she has to accept no matter, however, for Romania. We are just fine. We don’t have a problem. We are not at a supermarket, “you can keep it then give me the medal…”, no. No, no, no. We are just fine and it’s not even a problem with that. So she has the gold medal.
BLYTHE: And after the Olympic Games, was it hard to keep training? After this nightmare had happened to you, did you think about just retiring and saying, “I’m done.”
ANDREEA: Oh it was pretty hard because most of my teammates started quitting gymnastics, and I tried to think about what I had to do to set my plans for the Worlds in Ghent, Belgium. Maybe everybody thought I was not prepared or I’m afraid for another big competition after Sydney. I was just fine. In Belgium I met again the same opponents that I did in Sydney. It was important that I did. That gave me the opportunity to show the whole world again what I’m capable [of doing]. For me it was the best competition with three gold medals and two bronze. I was just very, very overwhelmed with my younger teammates and with my coaches, with everybody, gymnasts from other countries. Everybody support[ed] me and sent me messages. It was just wonderful, wonderful.
BLYTHE: That’s lovely. And then after that World Championships in Ghent, can you tell us what happened then and what led to you retiring definitively from gymnastics, and then making that decision?
ANDREEA: Actually that was in December 2002, I just decided to say stop and to look for what I had to do in the future. There were some problems, it was difficult because everybody seemed to think better to become a coach when you finish your career. And I said okay I want to, it’s probably easier way for many gymnasts or athletes, but I said I want to do something else, something different. I’m very happy because I’m being part of the sport family. Now I’m working with the Romanian Olympic Foundation, and I’m working as a sports journalist, I really love it. Never say never, maybe one day I’ll be a coach, but not today, and maybe not next year. And it’s not very easy, but now it’s fine and I’m doing what I like to do and I think that’s the most important thing.
BLYTHE: Most people think that you should have the gold medal back that you won in the All-Around competition. We heard that there are some things that would have to happen in order for that decision to be reversed and for you to be reinstated as the rightful gold medalist in the 2000 Olympic Games in the All-Around competition, can you tell us about that process and what would need to be done for that to happen and if you plan to continue to try to make that happen?
ANDREEA: Maybe if one day I [thought] it was the right moment to do something for that, for sure I’ll do that. But for the moment I’m just fine and trying to do what I have to do. And I’m just very happy because when I launched the book in [the] Romanian language a lot of people from other countries asked me to translate the book in English because they wanted to read about my story and find out everything. These are the things that really, really touched me and impressed me. I’m very happy that they [haven’t] forgotten me. I don’t know maybe one day I’ll think it’s the right moment to ask somebody about my medal from the Olympics in 2000, yeah I’ll do that. For now, it’s okay.
BLYTHE: If you decided to do that you would have the support of the whole world in gymnastics, I think. They would be behind you for that.
ANDREEA: They are beside me and I really appreciate that.
BLYTHE: Yeah. And now we have just a few more questions for you, but we realize that you only said half an hour please and now we have already had 35 minutes. Would it be possible to ask you just a few more questions, or do you have to go?
ANDREEA: It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s just fine. I hope you are understanding because my English is pretty poor. I don’t know if you can do something but I will try to do my best.
BLYTHE: Ahh, your English is wonderful!
ANDREEA: Come on, I know it’s not. [LAUGHS] I know it’s not.
BLYTHE: Ahh, no I completely disagree! English is not an easy language to learn. How did you learn English, by the way?
ANDREEA: In the gym hall at the competition, a little bit in the school when I was younger, but we had a lot of problems with the grammar. We spoke in the gyms but nobody told me, “You have to speak better” or “This is not the correct…”, and yeah. With my friends I can speak in English, but it’s not a good one for interviews. It’s pretty difficult because, you know, they need to understand and to hear exactly what you have to [say] and when you don’t speak [English very well], it’s a problem. So we can do this part in Romanian if you want. I’m just joking.
BLYTHE: [LAUGHS] I think you would find my Romanian is appalling.
ANDREEA: Oh, come on!
BLYTHE: Maybe another day. [LAUGHS]
ANDREEA: Why not?!
BLYTHE: Why not! Sure! [LAUGHS]
ANDREEA: I can teach you a few words. So no problem!
BLYTHE: I know how to say thank you. I learned how to say thank you.
ANDREEA: Perfect. Good!
BLYTHE: That’s all. And so sometimes when we interview gymnasts they say to us that it is hard for them after they stop doing gymnastics to adjust to life after that because the routine is so different, the things you do every day are very different. We were wondering if that was true for you, too?
ANDREEA: Not really. Everything was so different when I quit my career and I had to think about what I had to do now. Gee, I stopped my career, not gymnastics anymore but what [do] I have to do? And I don’t want to be a coach, but what can I do to be, not at the same level of a gymnast, but to do something that I like to do, and to do in a good way. I start[ed] to finish my school, and I went with Romanian Television to the Olympics in 2004 in Athens, and I was there as the reporter and commentator for Romanian Television and I said okay, that sounds cool maybe I can be a journalist and I started to study a little bit. I have a masters degree in Journalism, it was different, but I like it very much. I told you, you can never say never. Maybe someday I’ll be a coach, but for now I like very much what I’m doing at the Romanian Olympic Foundation to promote sports and to support ex athletes, with [their] kind of problems. My work as a sports journalist, it’s just fine, I love it. I don’t know, maybe after one year or two years I’ll do something different. But for the moment I’m very [happy] with that.
UNCLE TIM: Alright, so you mentioned you’re working as a sport journalist and something in the United States that we’ve heard about Romanian gymnasts is that after they retire from the sport that the Romanian government gives them an apartment and a pension, so kind of a salary to keep them going. Is that true?
ANDREEA: Actually, only the Olympic Champions have a pension, not an apartment actually. They get some money and gifts for the athletes, we had no apartments after the Olympic Games. But yes they [inaudible] to support the Olympians and of course I had too, after I had my medal from the Olympic Games and from World Championships, but no to the apartment for the athletes.
UNCLE TIM: Okay, and to conclude I have a few questions about Romanian gymnastics today. So I’m curious what are your thoughts about the current state of gymnastics in Romania as we’re looking ahead to 2016. Does it look like Romania will be very strong over the next four years, or is there some worries? What are your thoughts?
ANDREEA: Of course as a Romanian gymnast, ex or former gymnast, I want for my team [is] the best. I hope they have a strong team for the next four years and also for Rio. Yeah it’s not very easy because sometimes we change the generation, and maybe the coaches, and a lot of things, so it’s hard to say but our federation, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation is trying to find a good way for our athletes, girls and boys. I’m sure that we’ll have a good team in the future as well.
UNCLE TIM: Okay, and what do you think about some of the retirements that have been happening lately? I believe that Haidu, is that how you pronounce her name, retired recently?
ANDREEA: Yeah, Raluca Haidu and Diana Chelaru, they have some problems, medical problems I guess. But it’s their choice, you have to do gymnastics [only] if you want to do [it], if you’re thinking “enough” and “you can’t do it anymore” it’s better to say “Stop” and “Okay, thank you” and it’s very important to stop when you think that you have to do that.
UNCLE TIM: Ok. And earlier in the interview you mentioned that you did not like uneven bars at all and something that we’re very interested in is the fact that Romanian gymnasts are going to start using grips on bars. And do you think that will help them with their performances on the apparatus?
ANDREEA: Oh we had grips until today. Depends exactly. It’s really expensive maybe for each club in Romania being able to buy these grips. But I know they use them today. Depends maybe from gymnast to gymnast. I tried to work with grips but I never [could] do that. So, you know, our best events are beam and floor, but its ok to vault and it’ll be ok I’m sure on bars.
UNCLE TIM: Yes and we’ve always admired the Romanians on beam and floor and vault so we look forward to 2016 to see what’s in store for us in the future. And we know that you will be traveling around the US. Where can your fans find your schedule and book signing events?
ANDREEA: We have launched the book in Las Vegas at the Lady Luck Gymnastics Tournament and then we’ll go to Arizona State, and that’s all for the moment. Then we’ll go to New York but just for holiday. Maybe one day we will be back in the USA to promote the book, to talk with the little girls, little gymnasts, and the coaches. Just for the moment we have California, San Francisco, and Arizona.
UNCLE TIM: Our final question is where can listeners buy the book? Can we buy it online or do we actually have to go to the book event?
ANDREEA: Of course the book event, but you can order on my website. It’s www.andreearaducan.ro. I have the Facebook page facebook.com/andreearaducanofficial. They can find my information over there. I think in a few days you maybe can find the book on Amazon as well.
UNCLE TIM: Great! All right, well that’s it for us. And thank you so much for coming on our show and for speaking with us. We loved having you.
ANDREEA: Thank you so much for your support. Maybe one day we can meet. I really appreciate everything. Thank you so much.
BLYTHE: Thank you, Andreea. Multumesc!
[[INTERVIEW CONCLUDES]] –
BLYTHE: What a warm, wonderful, open personality…
BLYTHE: …she has after all that has happened to her. Oh my gosh.
JESSICA: Exactly! I just felt really… I felt for her so much more through this. I really started to get teary when she was talking about her coaches which I didn’t expect at all. And then when she was talking about the whole process when they told her she had tested positive, it was much more emotional for me than I thought. And I think it is exactly what you’re saying Blythe. She’s just a total sweetie!
BLYTHE: Yeah. Yeah it takes something to take an experience like that and be able to move on and actually be able to keep a positive outlook on everything. Don’t you think?
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I totally agree. And she basically said, “Yeah for now it’s ok. Maybe someday if the time is right, I will pursue my gold medal, getting back my gold medal. But for now, it’s ok.” I think if I were in that situation, I would totally be a bitter, bitter person with a lot of baggage and going through therapy. It would be a disaster. But, I was just impressed.
BLYTHE: I like how when we asked if Simona Amanar gave her her gold medal she laughed and she was like “No! Of course not!”
JESSICA: She was like “It’s not like a grocery store.” I was cracking up! That is one of the oldest, most long standing urban gymnastics myths of all time. We’re going to have to come up with a new name for that. They’re gym myths or something. Instead of urban myths. They’re pit myths. I was totally like oh that’s what everyone thinks happened! We’re all wrong!
BLYTHE: I remember reading that like somebody crafted her a gold medal and gave it to her. But of course, it’s not quite the same thing.
JESSICA: It’s interesting too the whole pension and apartment thing. I bet that’s like two different countries. It’s Russia where you get an apartment. It’s China where you get a pension, everything gets mixed into one. But she said it’s only for Olympic medalists. So basically, she’s not on the pension plan.
BLYTHE: She would be.
JESSICA: Oh, for Worlds.
BLYTHE: The whole team was Olympic champions. So she’d be a gold medalist in that regard.
JESSICA: Oh that’s true because that was before. It was just all around and event finals.
BLYTHE: Right. They didn’t strip her of the team gold medal. I remember watching the floor final in Sydney. She…oh what did she do? She stepped out of bounds or something like that. Whatever it was, it cost her a medal. Maybe even she fell. And now, having talked to her, I want to go back and watch that performance and think about my God what must’ve been going through your head. You know somebody has come and told you, “Andreea has tested positive and nobody knows what’s going on,” and what that would mean. And then you have to go out and do your whole floor routine again.
JESSICA: And speaking of her floor routine, I was totally surprised when she was talking about how she knew that Bellu was running around the floor while she was doing her floor routine. That’s like very… just that she was that aware of what was happening around her while she was doing that incredible performance. You hear some talk about when they perform and they blank out about everything around them and some people take it all in. And she seems like one that really took it all in.
BLYTHE: Yeah and she just seemed very calm about the situation. She was like, “Yes I knew if I finished I would be on the podium. I’d done my job and it was great.” Just a very healthy approach to it. Never did she say, “This was everything in my life. It was this or just horror.” She did her job and she was very well prepared and it was a great moment. Yeah! How nice!
JESSICA: I really liked that you asked about the vault situation. Because it was an interesting answer that she gave. It was kind of like my coach knew something was wrong. I could tell something was wrong. I thought I was hitting the board in the wrong place. And you could see that. Because you’re never going to think that the vault is too low.
BLYTHE: Yeah she said she felt like she was coming onto the horse very high. Didn’t she?
BLYTHE: And she would
BLYTHE: …if the horse is 2-3 inches lower or it was. Yeah she would have more preflight than she thought and would probably be like huh. That’s a bit odd. I haven’t changed anything but I feel like I’m a bit high on the horse. I think the answer to the question that you posed, Jess, was that basically she was short. You know?
BLYTHE: And probably when you are that size, you can just sort of flip yourself over and get around. Whereas someone like Khorkina, you know,
JESSICA: No chance.
BLYTHE: …that would have made a huge difference. Yeah no way.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah and she was only doing a half twist with her
UNCLE TIM: …post flight so that makes
UNCLE TIM: …it a little different.
JESSICA: What did you guys think about when she was talking about the doctor? Ooh.
BLYTHE: I thought that was a very honest answer. There was nothing to say. What did he say to you? Well at that point, what can you say?
UNCLE TIM: Well it was, yeah she was just very honest. I thought it was also interesting that she said reading the labels wasn’t my job. My job was to just go out and be a gymnast.
UNCLE TIM: And, you know, that was somebody else’s fault. And so, it was interesting. I guess when you’re a gymnast you don’t think, “Oh I need to read the label on everything.” You think, “Yeah my trainer is going to make sure that he or she doesn’t give me anything that is going to affect my performance or is on the banned substance list.”
JESSICA: Yeah I mean, the thing that she said when she was like yeah he admitted it. That was very telling I thought that she phrased it that way. Not that she has a bazillion words in her huge English lexicon to pick from but it was that he admitted what he did. It was his fault. I mean, that was his job. I mean I know in some ways we are taught so much that it’s the American athletes like, you have to know what’s going in your body. You have to be responsible for that. But you also, at some point, have to trust the people around you. And you would never think that your trainer would do that to you.
UNCLE TIM: I was just gonna say something else that I thought was interesting is that you know growing up, you kind of associate the Russian training story with the Romanian training story with the Chinese training story and they all just become one giant mess. They all were plucked out of a playground when they were four years old and they were all unhappy and living in terrible conditions. But it sounds like her story was very different. Her dad was somebody who put her into gymnastics and for the most part, she seemed happy. And unlike Lena’s experience at Round Lake, it sounds like she actually had a decent education as well.
JESSICA: I like how she talked about even though Amanar didn’t just give her the medal, that they’re all cool. This doesn’t have anything to do with them as people and it doesn’t affect their relationship. This is something that happened in a situation. There’s no Mean Girls stuff going on. And that seems very mature and also something you’d expect from women who’ve grown up together and respect each other.
BLYTHE: Yeah, absolutely.
JESSICA: One thing I want to mention is a lot of people bring up who should have rightful ownership of that gold medal. It should have really been Khorkina because Khorkina was the one that was really screwed over. How does Raducan not talk about Khorkina? How does she not feel compassion for her and this and that? We didn’t ask Raducan about Khorkina in this interview because Raducan and Khorkina have nothing to do with each other. Raducan’s job was not to look around the arena and see how other people were doing and take care of them. She was there to compete. She did her job. She did her thing. It was not up to her to affect the outcome of other people’s performances or to make sure the IOC was doing their freaking job. That’s always kind of bothered me. I just had to get that off my chest. Yes, we totally agree and we understand what happened at Sydney was a travesty and the fact that Khorkina had to do bars before she was allowed to do her vault over is one of the saddest and biggest injustices ever in gymnastics. And we all know that she probably would have won had the vault thing not happened to her, but that has nothing to do with Raducan. She did her gymnastics and that’s what we asked her about. Ok.
BLYTHE: And just in addition to that, the point I wanted to make is Khorkina did bars before she even knew that there was a problem with the vault and that she might be able to vault again. And so I’ve just always kind of thought if she had been able to look around the arena and see officials standing by the vault and it might have come to her. “Oh my God, the table is too low! Oh my God, I might be able to go again!” That might have affected her mindset as she went up to the bars. But she didn’t have that. She didn’t know when she went up to do bars. She thought you know, I fell, I’m done. It was my fault. This is it. Does that make sense?
JESSICA: Exactly. That’s the whole thing.
JESSICA: Spanny and Uncle Tim, what has been happening in NCAA this past week or the past two weeks?
SPANNY: Well going back to last weekend, the end of January, we had a couple of upsets in NCAA. I’m going to start with the University of Minnesota upsetting Michigan which I feel like has been a long time coming. There are a lot of people who are kind of not secret fans of Minnesota, but it’s one of those teams that not everybody hears about. Everybody knows that they are good and we enjoy watching them. After this meet, they were ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2002. Now this past week, they’ve fallen a few spots. But they are still in the top 15 and that is incredible. Especially for the Big 10. They’re starting to live up to what everybody kind of knew, to the potential they’ve always had. For all those people who whine, “Oh I miss artistry. I miss the perfect 10 and blah blah blah.” I don’t see how you can complain about NCAA, but the University of Minnesota is such a prime example of pretty gymnastics. Toes, and knees, and different choreography. It’s amazing.
JESSICA: Couldn’t agree more.
TIM: Yeah I was going to add that their full twisting Yurchenkos are very pretty. I could watch an entire rotation of Minnesota full twisting Yurchenkos.
JESSICA: They’re absolutely beautiful. I love that team. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just said Spanny.
SPANNY: Yeah and I think it’s so satisfying for people to see them doing well. They’re finally upping their difficulty and they’re starting to get the scores that I feel like people always wanted them to get.
JESSICA: I heard that Minnesota is one of those teams that they don’t actually recruit the top gymnasts. They’ve always recruited gymnasts they think they can develop into top gymnasts. And I don’t know, they work on their fundamentals and they develop them from the ground up. And I think that’s why they’ve kind of always been on the cusp but not broken into the top. So maybe they’re changing their strategy or, I don’t know. But I kind of wish we had more of the top gymnasts go there and consider that because they’re so beautiful. It’s just a whole different kind of gymnastics.
SPANNY: It’s refreshing. I thought it was largely satisfying. Maybe I’m just saying that because it’s home team whatever. But seeing them beat Michigan, I found that personally satisfying. Not that I don’t like Michigan. I’m happy that any team from the Big 10 is representing as well as they are. I just felt that they seemed a little big for their britches in the first few weeks. Only because it’s been a couple of weeks and yes you are scoring very well, but it’s pretty ambitious to assume that’s going to last you without fail all the way through the Super Six. So to be upset? Yeah it was at home and to be upset by the University of Minnesota. It was entertaining. By all accounts, it was a really exciting meet to be at. That’s why I love NCAA is that these things happen. Another more recent meet upset is this past week, Georgia upsets Alabama. Again, mixed feelings. As much as I want to rag on Georgia for everything, this was a really good meet for them. I mean, arguably their best meet since 2009. They hit. The scoring wasn’t atrocious. And the energy levels were incredible. I can see a glimpse of what people saw in them prior to 2009, 2010 we’ll say. Noel Couch is back. She’s one of those people, she’ll never be my favorite. But I can’t root against her because she just tries so hard.
JESSICA: Girl’s got tenacity. You’ve got to love that about her.
SPANNY: And she hasn’t competed since what April of last year and she’s just in incredible shape. Did a really weird routine to Star Wars and they kept commenting about people dancing with light sabres in the audience. But, I’m sure that was fun. Alabama though, I don’t think they showed up. They seemed like they were competing under the influence of anxiety medication. They seemed really depressed. It was just a really shaky meet. But then they scored their highest score of the season. I don’t understand. It just wasn’t a good matchup. I’m not rooting hard for either team but I don’t think that this meet is indicative of what will happen further down in the season.
JESSICA: Just one thing I wanted to say about Georgia. I’m really excited for… I just love Danna, the new coach. I just think she’s great. I’m super excited to see them evolve as a new sort of entity. It’ll be exciting to see. So I’m glad to see that they’re doing well.
SPANNY: I don’t know. I stare especially at what she’s done with like… I look at someone like Christa Tanella. And I have to think witchcraft. Because I have no…
SPANNY: She was a really good elite and this is the first time I’ve ever seen her, not just live up to her potential collegiately, but to exceed it. The fact that she’s ranked anything on floor just boggles my mind. She’s really good and Danna must have done something right with her this season. In the very upsetting news, Corrie Lothrop tore her achilles, as they all seem to do. I guess she’s gonna….no she can’t redshirt. She’s too far along in the year. But I think it’s a junior year curse. Because if you look at the number of former elites who go and bust their leg their junior year, it’s terrifying. You have Zamarripa, Sam Peszek, Corrie Lothrop, Courtney Kupets, all of them their junior year. So I want to call Kytra Hunter and warn her for next year.
JESSICA: That’s weird because I hadn’t really thought about that before but you’re totally right. And the thing that’s kind of freaking me out, like there’s been a lot of talk about why so many achilles injuries happen, especially on the men’s side. There’s been a couple of studies and people have talked about doing new floors and stuff like that. I think the bigger thing than the injury itself – like the injury sucks – but the bigger thing is we’re really lucky that no one and broken their neck
JESSICA: …on the takeoff for these. There are some really… like when Lichelle Wong did it last year, she almost landed on her head out of her double back. Yeah it’s really scary. I think that’s the scarier thing than the actual injury. I just think the more bouncy the floor is in a way, the more flection you get on the takeoff. I don’t know. I hope someone comes up with a solution.
SPANNY: Yeah, whenever everybody says, “Oh it like I bottomed out on the floor, I bottomed the floor out”—that terrifies me. Just cause I…you can kind of imagine what that is like, but to be just propelling through the air uncontrollably with your foot dangling, knowing you’re not going to land whatever it is that you just took off on, that’s terrifying to me. Happy things for the week. Ivana Hong nearly wins the all-around against UCLA. Had she been up against any other team, I believe that she would have won all-around with flying colors, but she was up against Zamarripa, who scored a ten. But for Ivana Hong to compete all-around and to do so well and to look so happy, it warmed the cockles of my heart. She just seems happy, and she’s such a rock for that team. That entire meet was fun to watch, and to see her, and then Danusia Francis, even though it was exhibition, compete on floor, I was like, oh, my pretties are all competing in the same place, and it made me happy.
JESSICA: Yeah. We were at the meet, and Ivana Hong just looked happy, she looked great, her floor routine didn’t make me angry because it was actually her doing her great thing with her own music, and it was beautiful, the choreography fit her as a gymnast and her personality. And the coolest thing that she did was—and I don’t know why no-one else did this, I don’t know if it was kids that she coached who were in the audience, or it was just her thing, but I think everyone should start doing this: after every routine, she would run over to one area and high five all the kids in the front row, after she dismounted. Oh, it was the cutest thing ever! I think all gymnasts should start doing this. I loved it, and the kids went nuts, it was so cute, and it was like she was an NFL player. I loved it. I was like good for you. And everyone loved it, it was great.
SPANNY: I can see that being the benefit of competing in the really small… gym, I guess, I don’t know if it’s an arena. But you can have that kind of personal interaction.
JESSICA: Yeah, no, that gym is like a large barn. Like, seriously, they need to get a bigger arena. It’s out of control. It’s super hot, it’s stuffed and packed in there, when you try to leave, they had Raducan signing autographs and the Stanford Team lined up to sign autographs in the exit, right next to the exit, so basically you couldn’t get out because everyone was standing in line and the people thought that you were trying to cut them in line, and we were trying to get out. You know, that program has really grown very nicely, and it really has outgrown the space, and it’s a nightmare to go there, so I hope they get a bigger arena.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean the thing is, though, they don’t end up filling Maples Pavilion when they do have their meets there, and so it’s one of those things, like, do you want the gym to be packed, or do you want it to look like nobody’s there? And so, I mean, it’s kind of a question. And the UCLA meet is probably the biggest meet of the year. I mean, a lot of UCLA fans do show up, so it’s, I’m sure, a tough decision for them.
SPANNY: I’m just jealous you got to go to the meet. I kept trying to look for you, but I didn’t… because the broadcast, first of all, that’s my other very pleasing comment is the fact that we got to see this live broadcast at all. I know a lot of people were ranting that it wasn’t high quality, and that the commentary, he was talking too much, or knew too much, which I didn’t know we could possibly complain about that, but I guess we did. I was just really appreciative that we got to see anything at all. I know, I think it was supposed to be aired on the Pac-12 channel, and then they canceled it, so then media people at Stanford jumped in. I thought it was incredible and I will take that broadcast with even the non stop yapping, at least it was very accurate yapping, over internet quick hits, any day. Any other thoughts about being there?
UNCLE TIM: Well, Jess I know, took very careful notes, we’ll say.
JESSICA: I just, well, I mean…there’s a lot of things that are frustrating about the meet, because they didn’t show the scores, so we didn’t know—I mean, you could see individual scores, but they didn’t show the team scores, which is something I’ve always complained about. And a lot of teams are actually doing this, like oh, gymnastics fans would like to know where the teams stand. We don’t want to have to take notes as we go. So, I mean, you know, instead of having the display that had Stanford vs. UCLA in the middle of the barn—I’m going to call it a barn, I know, I’m going to call it a barn instead of a pavilion—they had that up the whole time. Like, seriously? You don’t have somebody who could program, like, oh, here are the standings after the first rotation, here are the standings after the second rotation. I was like, seriously? I brought my friends, and the whole time they were just like, so what’s the score? Who’s winning? And I was like, eh. It’s so annoying, and this is why people get frustrated with gymnastics, you know? And the other thing was that, it’s just—I really like Stanford as a team. They have so much potential. They have Ivana Hong, they have Sam Shapiro, they have Cassie Rice’s daughter whose last name is Rice, of course, and I can’t remember her first name, but she’s Cassie Rice’s daughter…
UNCLE TIM: Taylor.
JESSICA: Taylor, who is Tasha Schwikert’s coach in Vegas, and she is a badass little gymnast, I really enjoyed watching her, and she had some missteps, but she’s going to be a player. She’s good. And the thing about them is, they’re just always so close but they just, I don’t know, don’t have it, mentally. I watched their beam rotation and I was like, seriously? They could have had four routines that were legitimately a 10. They were that perfect, and then they totally messed it up. They would take like five steps on their dismount, or they would do their dismount and they would have the biggest helicopter bent legs ever, and it just—they’re so close, and I don’t know what needs to change at Stanford, but…I don’t know, it kind of makes me wish that gymnastics coaching positions were more competitive in a way, because I kind of wish people felt more pressure to deliver. I mean, I don’t know if that’s really the healthiest thing, I mean, but it kind of seems like, if you can’t progress after so many years, then maybe you need to change. And maybe it’s an assistant coach thing, or whatever, but…I don’t know, I found myself wishing for that, you know. Some kind of change, because I really enjoy watching them and I think they’re great. And we were actually at the very end so we could see right down the beam, and it was very revealing from that angle to see, especially Vaculik, I was like, damn, how does that girl stay on the beam? She, her hips are never square and she does some kind of magic on beam, and I was like, well, this explains why she is so inconsistent on it all the time. So, anyway. I had a good time, there were just a lot of things that made me wish for little, little changes here and there.
UNCLE TIM: And I have to point out, while you are ripping on Stanford, you also have to be fair to UCLA, that there were some very crooked back-handspring step out layout step outs, that magically turned into dismount that I was gasping during. I cannot think of the girl’s name…
JESSICA: Kaelie Baer! Kaelie Baer!
UNCLE TIM: Yes.
JESSICA: Every time Kaelie Baer does a dismount, I think I’m going to die. You are absolutely, absolutely right, and, yeah. Totally. I have no idea how she stays on the beam, and last year she almost landed on her head like ten times, and I would prefer she did something different, but yeah.
UNCLE TIM: So. Yeah.
SPANNY: It’s funny you mention the scoring, because everyone at home—obviously, there wasn’t the normal live scoring page, it was like an old Excel file that, I could probably check it now, it’s probably still not updated, but it had Zam’s score as an all-arounder at 79 points for most of the meet, yeah. So the fact that they didn’t have some sort of scoring available in the barn does not surprise me. And you’d think Stanford…they might have a surplus of technologically-abled people, but you would be wrong. We gave you a challenge, what was it, a week, two weeks ago, to take somebody’s NCAA virginity, and people did, and we’re very proud of you. So, a few people let us know. Ryan from Lexington, Kentucky brought two friends that he goes to adults gym with, and he brought his friends to their very first NCAA meet in Kentucky. I guess they were caught a little bit off guard after, being accustomed to elite dismounts, seeing the full twisting gainer dismounts, which were a bit of a shock, which they are, I mean, gainers off the ends still give me heart attacks. But, they didn’t just go to one meet, they were to another meet, they went to the LSU meet and cheered so loudly for Lloimincia Hall, even though they were in red, and all the people in blue stared at them like they were nuts. They still really enjoyed it. And then they went back to their gym for adult gym and tried to work on the things that they had seen, until their coaches told them no.
SPANNY: But, as Ryan says, full price tickets are just five dollars. There’s no reason not to go. Plus, it’s the SEC, so great teams visit. And I say, word. It’s a very good reason to go.
JESSICA: We also had a listener write in about Kentucky, and she really wanted us to watch Kentucky, and check them out, and so I did watch the Kentucky meet, and I have to say, yeah. They’re looking pretty good. Like, they’re not like my favourite team in the whole world, but yeah. They’re definitely looking good. Especially Alexis Gross, I want to mention, she does a double front half dismount on bars, and that is freaking glorious. I love seeing stuff like that. So, yeah. Not bad.
SPANNY: Yeah. We’ve got, let’s see, Pammy Anne, from Twitter, took three first timers, another—maybe they all were friends—to LSU-University of Kentucky meet, maybe we’re talking about the same people. They loved it, and wanted to ask Lloimincia to go out dancing after. Yes. I don’t know how old she is, but to get her drunk…
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
SPANNY: It would be so much fun. But if you aren’t of age, I take it back. And Elizabeth Grimley on Twitter, took Amanda Maisie. First official gymnastics meet. Needed three more sets of eyes, lots of action. West Virginia University, doing great. And so, I know Elizabeth, she does a lot of the, she’s really involved with Georgia, so it’s really nice to see people who get accustomed to going to meets and think it’s an everyday activity to bring their friends, and now more people get to go.
JESSICA: We love that you guys answered our Gym Nerd challenge, and deflowered so many new gymnastics fans this week. So we’re very proud of you, so keep it up! And remember to tweet us pictures, and we’ll put them up on the site. Like, all stand there with the gym in the background and that would be awesome, we’d love that.
SPANNY: Even if it’s not a new meet. I remember my first, not my first time, but the first time, let’s say, I brought my ex-boyfriend Jeff [LAUGHS]. So, this I brought my, this is my ex-boyfriend from LA, and I brought him to, Utah came to UCLA meet, and you know who I’m talking about. Utah, little one…
JESSICA: Oh, Kristina Baskett?
SPANNY: Yeah, thank you. He fell in love with her, and probably would have left me for her, but I was ok with it. But he thought it was really exciting. You know, he didn’t know what was going on, but he thought they were cute little girls bouncing around, and I think we all understand.
JESSICA: I mean, Kristina Baskett is one of the most gorgeous, beautiful human beings ever to walk the earth, so—which is why she’s in, like, every commercial and sports thing now. So, we all understand. Everyone has a girl crush on her, too, so it’s ok.
SPANNY: Yeah. It would be cool if people, if they have stories about their first meet, maybe it was five years ago, or when they brought their mother to a meet, or…
JESSICA: Yeah, I took my friend who was my roommate in college, and wrestled on the same team as my husband, and he has daughters now, who love doing gymnastics, they’re just starting to do gymnastics class, and it’s always interesting to hear his commentary. I took him to his first meet ever last year, but he has the same comments but stronger this year, and he’s like, “I kind of love watching this,” and he’s, on the other hand, he’s like, “I have daughters, and watching this as a father with daughters, I don’t want them to do gymnastics.” He’s like, “Why do they have to lay on their back and arch themselves up?” He’s like, “I just feel like that’s not—I don’t want my kids doing that.” One of the little girls did a totally adorable little exhibition before the meet started—so cute, it was one of my favorite things about the meet—but they also did a little thing where they laid on the ground and they straddle, and he was like, “I don’t want my daughters to do that.” And so it was an interesting perspective, sitting next to a straight man with daughters, talking about his experience at the meet. So, yeah. Share those with us. We’d love to hear them. Oh yeah. Let’s do the men.
UNCLE TIM: Alright. So, on the men’s side, right now Penn State is still ranked number one. Michigan is in the number two slot. Oklahoma’s third, and Stanford is fourth. So pretty much, kind of the same. Not much has really changed. But this last week, I talked about death, and this week, the theme is thank you. So, completely opposite end of the spectrum. And the first thank you goes out to University of Nebraska. A few weeks ago I was partaking in the gay institution called Sunday Brunch With Bottomless Mimosas, and afterwards I decided to head home for some, let’s say siesta time, but I never made it to my bedroom because I got distracted because Nebraska had a live feed of the meet against the University of Illinois at Chicago, and usually men’s meets aren’t broadcast live over the internet, so thank you, the Huskers, for doing that. And I especially enjoyed some of the unfortunate names of the Nebraska gymnasts. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go look at their roster, cause they have some special last names.
UNCLE TIM: My next thank you goes to Andrew Avelino of Army Gymnastics, and I think I speak for Jess and Spanny when I say that we’re very thankful for our military service to this country, no? But I have to confess that I don’t pay too much attention to the Army’s gymnastics program because they tend to be kind of on the bottom of the NCAA every year. However, the Army’s promo video caught my attention this year, and in it they feature a gymnast named Andrew Avelino. He had to have his leg amputated after a trampoline accident, but he’s back in the gym working out with a prosthetic leg, which I just am so impressed with. I can’t even find the words to describe how remarkable and inspiring that is. And so my new motto is, if Andrew Avelino can do it, then I can do it. So. And my final thank you goes to Anton Gryshayev of Iowa. His rings routine was pretty, pretty good at the Metroplex Challenge. Minus the dismount, I was pretty impressed. He has a really, really gorgeous iron cross. And while I’m on the topic of Iowa, on the team of Iowa, I guess I should also send out a thank you to JD Reive, who is a newcomer to Iowa, but he’s doing pretty amazing things with the team. So I’m excited to see if Iowa can kind of rise in the ranks over the next couple of years. So those are my thank yous for the week.
JESSICA: Yay! Ok. Did it really sound like I was ripping on Stanford? I didn’t mean to rip on Stanford. I like Stanford. I just don’t like the meet setup.
UNCLE TIM: No, yeah. It was just like a lot of negative things, it wasn’t a big deal.
JESSICA: Yeah, it’s like I…
UNCLE TIM: I was just, oh, if you’re going to call out the girls from Stanford for going crooked, you have to talk about Kaelie Baer, because that is one freaking crooked back handspring, step out, layout, step out.
JESSICA: It was terrifying, yes. And of course, there’s Mattie and her, you never know how that the gainer-pike-tuck-wolf jump sort-of position is going to go. But I was glad to see that Mattie actually looked happy, but yeah. It’s one of those things where you see a team with so much potential, and you want them to live up to it, you know? And it’s like, yeah.
SPANNY: We’ll you right. There seems to be a lack of urgency, like you said. Not just with—well obviously with the team, but when you compete, again, not to quote Mary Lee Tracy, but with, do you really want to be good just for you? That was good for me. I feel like Stanford, hey, that was good for Stanford. Like, no. You should just be good.
JESSICA: Yes. I was totally—like, that’s a really good point, because I was talking to a friend about this after the meet, and I was like, you know, I don’t like, I don’t feel like it’s a—this is going to sound weird—I don’t know how to put this, quite—but, in terms of how the meet is conducted, I don’t feel like it’s a really Bay Area value to put on a big show and put a lot of emphasis on how things look and kind of the presentation of the meet in general, and I don’t know if that’s fair to say, but I just think that, it’s one of those things we have to do, no matter what our personal or geographic values are. If you want the sport to continue, you have to make, put on a great event. Like, it’s one of those things we just have to do, so. Yeah. But I agree with you about the urgency thing.
JESSICA: Ok, we have a little bit of reader feedback—listeners, listeners feedback this week. Spanny, what do you have?
SPANNY: Well, from noted Canadian photographer of the Tandoori Chicken fame, Grace Chu, @GraceClick on Twitter, writes: “Skied at few k thru Gatineau Park with a free pass from the library & @Gymcastic in my ear #CleanAirOverdose”.
JESSICA: Is that the best, most Canadian tweet ever! It’s just so, it’s like—skiing while listening to the podcast? Oh, that totally made my whole week!
SPANNY: And few k, is that like…
SPANNY: I was like, what’s this? I’m an American. [LAUGHS] Canada’s not that far, I should know. Yeah, that is lovely, largely Canadian, and yay for Canadian listeners.
JESSICA: It’s very sweet.
SPANNY: Yeah, definitely. I enjoy her pictures. With the chicken.
JESSICA: Chicken’s awesome, you guys should totally follow Tandoori Chicken on Facebook and Twitter, too, because that’s her chicken that she has, brings with her to all the meets and has the gymnasts pose with the chicken, which is hilarious and awesome.
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. EliteSportzBand.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit EliteSportzBand.com, that’s sports with a ‘z’, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code: gymcast.
JESSICA: Alright, that’s going to do it for this week, thank you so much for listening. I wanted to remind you, we have something really special coming up this weekend. So, this weekend our very own Uncle Tim will be at the Winter Cup, which is kind of like the preview and start to the year for men’s gymnastics, and he is going to be doing quick hits from the meet. We’re so excited about this. Can’t wait. So, if you want to check out his quick hits, he’ll be doing them on the GymCastic website, and he will tweet about it so you know when it’s starting, so look for that this week, and you can go follow him for quick hits, and then he’ll have a report for us the following week. Remember to keep up the Gym Nerd Challenge of the month, to keep deflowering this coming week, and tell us about it, and take pictures, and take someone to a gymnastics meet for the first time. It doesn’t have to be NCAA, could be anything. And tell us about the experience, how was it? What did they think? And remember that you can support the show by shopping on Amazon or Powell’s Bookstore, tell you friends to rate us on iTunes, tell your friends to listen to us. Post, like, “Hey, I love this show”, on Facebook to all your gymnastics friends. And remember to listen to us on the Stitcher app. I find myself, I listen to the Stitcher app almost exclusively. Like, I totally stopped using my iTunes app, because I love it and I can put all my things—it’s just easier to use, I really like it. So. And we love your feedback, you guys, we read every single email, we read every single tweet, and all of your posts on Facebook, so you can contact us at GymCastic@gmail.com. You can leave us a message by calling 415-800-3191. You can leave a question on GymLine. Just leave your name, your city, and try to keep it under 60 seconds. And remember, if you have Skype, you can call that way. Our username is GymCastic Podcast. And until next week, I am Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com.
SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile.
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talk’s Mens Gym.
JESSICA: See you guys next week!
[[OUTRO MUSIC – “Like a Virgin”]]